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11 albums you should listen to this week

President Ya Straata

Focalistic

Focalistic’s mission to export amapiano to the rest of the world is on hold, with the Pitori (Pretoria)-born superstar now unveiling his latest project, entitled President Ya Straata, which means “President of the streets” in sePitori. The project recalls his come-up and a serves as a display of gratitude, with the rapper reminding us that when he’s not touring abroad, in Africa and Europe, he remains one of the local leaders of South African new wave. On seven explosive tracks, the ‘Pitori Maradonna’ immerses himself in very localised sounds of Pretoria and its province, like bacardi house on “Barcardi Ke Religion.”

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Place: Nairobi

KMRU

KMRU is based between Berlin, where he studies sound and acoustic arts, and his home town Nairobi. Today, he releases Place: Nairobi, a new compilation featuring the front runners of the young Kenyan electronic music scene. “The idea of making a compilation about the Nairobi scene has been on my mind for quite some time,” the producer told us in a French interview. “Nairobi is a little bit under the yoke of mainstream music, yet the city has an extremely dynamic alternative scene. Artist producers, musicians… […] For me, with these fourteen tracks, we’re barely scratching the surface of a scene in full bloom.” 

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We Famous

Kondi Band

Announced via three singles including the excellent “It’s God’s World (So Don’t Do Bad),” the Kondi Band trio finally release We Famous. Sierra Leonean musician Sorie Kondi, his compatriot Chief Boima and English producer Will LV, recorded the album over a period of four years, while Sorie toured Belgium, Spain and the Canary Islands. The result is an irresistible set made of varied and colourful tracks, in which Boima and Will give the acoustic musician the keys to the dancefloor. Sorie and his thumb piano fit perfectly within dance music, thanks to his catchy lyrics and infectious melodies.

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Seekers International – Presents Ragga Preservation Society – Worldwide Sound

Seekers International

The enigmatic Manila-via-British Columbia ensemble Seekers International returns to Tokyo-based label Diskotopia for the follow up to 2016’s RaggaPreservationSociety. This time, the crew are back with collaborative goodness — namely alongside Roger Robinson as Papa Robbie on “Kill-A-Milli,” Second Woman (Joshua Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv & Belong’s Turk Dietrich), wzrdyAV, and the late DJ Wundrkut, who heartbreakingly passed away a month before the release. Worldwide Sound’s direction takes the original RaggaPreservationSociety records to jungle dubs, radio rips, and soundclash tape samples, tapping into the raga-jungle history of Canada’s large Jamaican community.

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Amabutho

The Joy

Originally from a small town just outside of Durban in South Africa, the five members of The Joy met at high school upon entering a singing competition together. Their music spread globally from the group’s Instagram, soon catching the attention of high profile names within the worldwide artist community, impressed by their joyful sound, spontaneous arrangements and uplifting dance moves. Their first body of work, Amabutho, is a combination of Zulu music with a modern a capella flourish, perfectly encapsulating the band’s spirit.

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Figurine

Wayne Snow

Nigerian-born singer and songwriter Wayne Snow releases the result of three years of work with Figurine. The album is a personal and profound work that addresses humanity’s obsession with representations, masks and fictional characters. Over the course of 10 tracks, the Berlin-based artist blends neo soul with soultronica and pop inflections in an exploration of our insecurities following the forced social isolation of the past year. “We always hide behind characters and let them dominate us. We are always running after an ideal because we are afraid to face reality,” Snow says. 

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Saet El Hazz (The Luck Hour)

Maurice Louca

Saet el Hazz” is a coded saying in Egypt that refers to having good time, usually implying a great deal of debauchery. Louca’s desire to collaborate with Lebanese band “A” Trio was the spark for this free-jazz album, while the art organization Mophradat ignited the project. In commissioning a new composition to be performed using instruments that Louca would modify, Mophradat led him to Indonesian, German and Turkish music experiences, creating a sound that wasn’t necessarily rooted in the Arabic tradition of maqam anymore. “The drive behind the music of this album and how it came to be, and the energy between us at the studio rehearsing and recording it, was in a lot of ways for me a saet hazz,” the Egyptian alternative musicians writes about the project. 

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Teenage Dreams

Native Soul

Native Soul was formed in 2019 by Kgothatso Tshabalala (19 years old) and Zakhele Mhlanga (18 years old). Their debut album, Teenage Dreams, released by Awesome Tapes From Africa, demonstrates staggering levels of maturity. Each track develops incrementally with various elements introduced in turn, embodying the duo’s South African music heritage by drawing on old school kwaito, trip-hop and even globalised house. The layers add to the emotion and take Teenage Dreams beyond just a dance project, but one that shows what depth can be gained when ability meets creativity.

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Black Prayers

Obi

At the age of 33, self-taught singer Obi, born in Nigeria, releases his first album Black Prayers. The project is a musical journey nourished by experiences: that of a young migrant who has experienced the suffering on his road to clandestinity in Europe. The eight tracks on the album pass through light and shadow, pain and joy, suffering and hope. “I want my sound to be like me,” the singer told us in a French interview with PAM. “Even if I’m doing dancehall, or afrobeats, I want it to be Obi“.

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Late Night Tales Present Version Excursion Selected by Don Letts

Don Letts

The British compilation series Late Night Tales partners with British/Jamaican rebel Don Letts for Version Excursion, a hypnotic set of remixed songs that have influenced his sound. Speaking about the eclectic tracklist, Letts explained: “A disciple of sound system, raised on reggae n’ bass culture, my go to sound was dub. But that’s only half the story as the duality of my existence meant I was also checking what the Caucasian crew were up to, not to mention the explosion of black music coming in from the States. You’d think it impossible to draw a line between ‘em but not in my world”.

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Bravo

Cheque

Nigerian rapper, singer and songwriter Cheque releases 13-track album Bravo, a real testament to his sing-rap hybrid sound, taking listeners on a sonic ride reflective of his musical palette. The album comes following a run of singles including “Call Me Baby” and most recently “LOML” alongside YBNL linchpin Olamide. Additional collaborations come from American rapper Jackboy, Nigerian musical prodigy Ayra Starr, who channels new energies in lead single “Dangerous” and childhood friend Fireboy DML on the reflective “History,” which sees both artists reminisce on how far they’ve come.

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